In what has been described as “the biggest management shakeup at Apple since the Steve Jobs putsch that eliminated Gil Amelio in 1997” Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is said to have fired Scott Forstall, described as an unpopular face at Apple, and held responsible for the disaster that was iOS 6 Maps, and the still in beta, inadequate Siri.
While Apple’s press release claimed that the management changes would “encourage even more collaboration” at Apple, sources claimed Forstall (and retail head John Browett) were fired, according to a New York Times report.
As we reported at the time of the Apple Maps fiasco, as senior vice president of iOS Software, Scott Forstall was responsible for Maps. It appears that despite heading up the division, Forstall wasn’t prepared to take responsibility when things went wrong, however. Reports today are claiming that Forstall refused to sign the letter of apology for Apple Maps that was published in September. Forstall dismissed criticism of Maps and reports of problems as “exaggerated”, according to New York Times sources.
Instead Cook signed the apology letter to Apple customers over maps.
Forstall’s refusal to sign is said to be the mistake that sources are claiming lead to his departure from Apple. As Fortune puts it, his refusal to sign “Sealed his fate” at Apple.
Unpopular execs and infighting at Apple
Further reports have appeared over the past few months claiming that Forstall was not popular with the other Apple executives leading to in-fighting at Apple. In particular his relationship with Jony Ive was said to be so bad the two executives would not sit in the same meeting room together, according to New York Times sources.
As a result, it appears the mood of people at Apple is “largely positive” about Forstall’s departure. “This was better than the Giants winning the World Series,” said one New York Times source. “People are really excited.”
Scott Forstall was popular with late CEO Steve Jobs however, and the two are said to have had much in common – it has even previously been suggested that Forstall could be the next Steve Jobs. Forstall has been described as “a sharp, down-to-earth, and talented engineer, and a more-than-decent presenter” (he is said to have trained as an actor). Forstall had worked for just two companies in his career, both founded by Steve Jobs: Next and Apple.
Perhaps Apple decided it was time to sort out its own stormy relationships at a time when everyone’s attention was on another storm. It has been suggested that Apple was taking advantage of the fact that the New York Stock Exchange is shut due to Hurricane Sandy. Some might suggest it was a good time for Apple to air its dirty laundry and attempt to get its act together.
What does the future hold for Apple?
Apple isn’t looking for a direct replacement for Forstall, rather his responsibilities will be shared among other Apple executives.
Senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue is to take over leadership of Apple Maps and Siri. Fortune describes Cue as “Apple’s Mr. Fix-it,” noting that he cleaned up and eventually killed MobileMe too.
Senior vice president of industrial design Jonathan Ive will take on software responsibilities, providing “leadership and direction for Human Interface,” according to Apple.
Vice President of Mac Software Engineering Craig Federighi will take on the leadership of iOS.
Recently unretired Bob Mansfield will oversee “wireless technology”. Fortune notes that: “It does not suggest that Cook’s hands are firmly on the steering wheel when a veteran executive announces his retirement, only to be placed in a critical role overseeing initiatives key to the company’s future.”
Cook himself is said to be taking responsibility for the retail division while he looks for a replacement for Browett. Cook is said to be an expert in supply chain management, but has met with some issues lately with new suppliers being unable to meet demand for new products such as the iPhone 5.
As for Forstall, he is going to remain an advisor to Cook until “next year,” according to Apple’s press release. However, this is intended to keep Forstall from ringing up Samsung, speculates Fortune.
Forstall may have seen it coming. Back in May he cashed in 95% of his Apple stock worth $38.7 million. The shares were the remains of a retention bonus granted to Forstall in 2008.
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